Former Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker said in a recent interview that “serious questions” are being raised about the events leading up to convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein’s apparent suicide while calling for “full transparency” over the probe into the millionaire financier’s death.
“Well the transparency is the key. That’s what builds confidence for the American people. If you don’t give all of the facts—essentially line by line as to what we looked into, who we talked to, what we found, what we saw, what was violated if anything … the facts—the confidence won’t be there,” Whitaker told Fox & Friends in an appearance on Aug. 12.
Whitaker highlighted the fact that Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman was held at the same facility as Epstein without incident before he was transferred, adding that “something doesn’t add up” about Epstein’s case.
“I was surprised to see they could hold [El Chapo] safely without incident and then have Epstein twice, I mean once an alleged failed attempt at suicide and now a successful attempt,” Whitaker said. “The questions surrounding this, something doesn’t add up and we need full transparency and we need the answers on this.”
Epstein, who was arrested in July on sex trafficking charges, was found unresponsive in his cell in the Special Housing Unit at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York City at 6:30 a.m. He was awaiting trial for sex trafficking and conspiracy charges.
The 66-year-old was previously found injured and semi-conscious in his prison cell with marks on his neck on July 24, but it was unclear whether that incident was a suicide attempt or an assault by another inmate. Following the incident, he was placed on suicide watch but was later taken off, according to reports.
A source told Reuters that the financier wasn’t on suicide watch at the time of his death. They also said that at the facility two jail guards are required to check on all inmates every 30 minutes but added that the “procedure was not followed overnight.”
The Washington Post, citing an unnamed source, reported that corrections officers had not checked on Epstein for “several” hours before he was found unresponsive in his cell. He was also supposed to have had a cellmate, but—for reasons that are still being investigated—he did not have one at the time of his death, the newspaper reported.
Whitaker also said on Aug. 12 that he was pleased that Attorney General William Barr had taken the matter “incredibly seriously,” while expressing confidence in Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz, who has been assigned the investigation over Epstein’s death.
“He has a lot of experience investigating things that have happened at [the Bureau of Prisons] including at this New York City jail,” he said.
He added that he was surprised to hear reports that some of the Bureau of Prisons’ protocols and procedures were not followed.
“Reason and common sense would suggest that someone should have been checking on him based on what happened several weeks before,” Whitaker said.
Barr released a statement following Epstein’s death on Aug. 10, saying that he was “appalled” to hear the news.
“I was appalled to learn that Jeffrey Epstein was found dead early this morning from an apparent suicide while in federal custody. Mr. Epstein’s death raises serious questions that must be answered,” Barr said in a statement.
The attorney general said he has consulted with the inspector general, who will be launching an investigation into the circumstances surrounding Epstein’s death.
The New York City medical examiner’s office said they had completed an autopsy on the body of Epstein and that his cause of death was “pending further information at this time.”
— Cristian Benavides (@cbenavidesTV) August 11, 2019
“Today, a medical examiner performed the autopsy of Jeffrey Epstein. The ME’s determination is pending further information at this time. At the request of those representing the decedent and with the awareness of the federal prosecutor, I allowed a private pathologist (Dr. Michael Baden) to observe the autopsy examination. This is routine practice,” Barbara Sampson, the city’s chief medical examiner, said in an Aug. 11 statement.
“My office defers to the involved law enforcement agencies regarding other investigations around this death. Inquiries regarding the determination of the chief medical examiner should be directed towards my office.”
Meanwhile, the Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said in a brief statement on Aug. 10 that the investigation into sex trafficking and conspiracy accusations against the financier remains open.
— US Attorney SDNY (@SDNYnews) August 10, 2019
“Today’s events are disturbing, and we are deeply aware of their potential to present yet another hurdle to giving Epstein’s many victims their day in Court,” Berman said in the statement. “To those brave young women who have already come forward and to the many others who have yet to do so, let me reiterate that we remain committed to standing for you, and our investigation of the conduct charged in the Indictment–which included a conspiracy count–remains ongoing.”
Epoch Times reporter Zachary Stieber and Bowen Xiao contributed to this report.